Zanu PF apologist and Rural Electrification Agency (REA) board member, Alderman Jerry Gotora, and senior executives have been suspended pending investigations into a case of alleged corruption.
Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma on Thursday said:
“I can confirm that the chairman of the board Alderman Jerry Gotora was suspended and that three senior executives were sent on forced leave. This is to give room to the investigators to look into an issue pertaining to loans that were acquired by the senior executives without the knowledge of other relevant authorities hence the investigation into the matter.”
Mangoma said investigations would start soon with the assistance of the Auditor General.
According to sources within the electrification agency, the chief executive officer, director for project and director for planning were sent on forced leave first in a major shake up to deal with cases of corruption which they claim were on the increase.
Sources said the management allegedly bought houses using REA money which was meant for other projects.
“They bought houses using REA money without the approval of the other board members, so they have been suspended because the matter has to be investigated,” sources said.
Mangoma said there would try to ascertain where the money came from. The Rural Electrification Agency is a statutory body governed by the Rural Electrification Fund Act.
The policy framework was a deliberate intention to correct the imbalances between urban and rural electrification with the ultimate goal of socially and financially empowering the rural communities.
Some analysts saw the project as a ploy by Zanu PF to win the hearts and minds of the rural electorate.
During the 2011 National Budget presentation, Finance minister Tendai Biti said he was concerned by the slow pace of rural electrification.
“However the high electricity payments defaults by households and industries to both REA and Zesa has meant low revenue inflows to REA, hence, slowing down the implementation of most planned REA projects in rural areas,” Biti said.